Ever get that “not so feminist” feeling?

I’m getting tired of feeling like I’m not enough of a feminist. I’m sure those who know me think that I’m plenty feminist enough, but my Feminist Theory course last spring, for example, made me realize that I don’t fit current models of feminism. Because I don’t accept the premise that lesbian sex is the only acceptable expression of sexuality, being the only non-patriarchically imposed kind of sex, I must not be a feminist. Also, apparently my lack of anger at society’s attempts to “force” me to have a child marks me as anti-feminist. And the fact that I don’t subscribe to the idea that women running the world would make it a better place for women and men must mean that I’m ready for my apron, pearls and pumps, the better to serve my husband his meal at the close of his work day.

The latest evidence is my complete inability to understand what’s behind Rebecca Traister’s comments on Salon’s Broadsheet about a new Japanese cell phone that predicts ovulation. Traister’s typically snarky comments go something like this:

Hey! Need a new phone? How about one that is intimately acquainted with your menstrual cycle? What’s that you say? That’s ludicrous? Guess you won’t want to buy the new FOMA D702iF mobile phone designed especially for women by DoCoMo, Japan’s largest cellphone manufacturer. (Traister’s emphasis)

[The phone] resembles a birth control dispenser and comes in a nauseating array of pastel colors. It’s a “feminine size,” whatever that may mean. And its major feature seems to be a “biorhythm memo” that alerts users three days before ovulation, and again on the day of. So you know when you’re fertile. With the help of your cellphone. Barf.

Most of the time, I don’t understand the source of Traister’s vitriol to begin with. I cynically believe she sharpens her blades just to sell subscriptions to Salon, as I’ve stated in the past. My problem with her current blurb is that, as always, she claims to be speaking for women everywhere, and what’s more, she implies that there’s a standard for feminism that you’re not meeting if you disagree with her. You want a pink phone (or baby blue, or lavender, or some other “nauseating” color)? Not feminist. You want to track your ovulation? Well, that must mean you want to have a baby, so, not feminist. And G-d forbid you want to carry an emery board or a tampon as Traister snarks elsewhere in the article. What kind of cavewoman are you, for heaven’s sake?

What exactly is Traister’s problem with this phone? That there are products just for women? That those products help them get pregnant? That those products come in “women’s” colors? She sees manufacturers cramming “unnecessary” products down women’s throats and reinforcing gender stereotypes by producing pink phones, and yet, as another Salon reader points out, Broadsheet itself is pink. Manufacturers don’t make us want pink, Ms. Traister; manufacturers make products in pink because, whether you or I like it or not, many, many women do buy and wear and decorate in pink.

Some of the revulsion to stereotypes I understand. I’ve always believed that women can do anything men can do (and don’t give me that “pee standing up” crap. My mom taught us that, because you do not want to sit down on a public toilet seat). I’m not wild about being pigeon-holed as a woman first and a scholar, friend, member of the community, or human second. I’ve only in the last year incorporated any pink into my wardrobe. But I’m tired of feeling like I’m not feminist enough because I like spa days and chick flicks and want to have a child.

And here’s the thing, you “good” feminists out there: this is the kind of crap that turns women against feminism permanently. If the tent is not big enough, people just walk out. If women don’t feel that feminism is speaking for them, they either will join those who say that feminism is unnecessary or they’ll just sit silently and feel a part of neither camp. Don’t force us to make that choice.

This, by the way, is one of those things that leads Dan to charge me from time to time with becoming too conservative. Watch for my forthcoming rebuttal “Why I Could Never Be a Conservative.”

3 Responses to “Ever get that “not so feminist” feeling?”

  1. Erin
    November 8th, 2006 00:36

    On the other hand, though, my students seem to believe that “feminist” is the last bastion of fair prejudice that can exist in the classroom. No picking on race or religion (overtly, at least), but by heaven if someone’s a feminist, they’re clearly hairy-legged man-hating lesbians who have nothing to teach them, nosireebob.

  2. erinmak
    November 8th, 2006 06:52

    I’m still ranging myself with the feminists; I’m just starting to get fed up with the attacks. And Rebecca Traister gets under my skin pretty much every time she writes something. She’s so vitriolic!

  3. birdy
    October 16th, 2007 20:27

    Obviously it is very importat to you that the world (and yourself) view you as a “feminist.” Part of the reason women are in the mess we are in is because we spend so much time tearing each other apart instead of supporting each other. I guess that’s just how we react when we feel threatened by another woman. Clearly that’s why you constantly attack her. You want to know my definition of “feminist?” It’s having the confidence to be the best woman I can be, having the courage to stand up for myself and the things I want in life, embracing the beautiful feminie things about myself, giving love and dignity to those around me, and respecting each woman’s right to experience womanhood in whatever manner brings them happiness.

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